A citizen threw his shoe at Supreme Court President Dorit Beinish during a court session on medical cannabis Wednesday morning. The shoe hit the judge in the face and broke her eyeglasses, and she left the room immediately and received initial medical treatment.
Beinish returned to the session an hour an a half later and calmed everyone by saying "everything is alright."
The thrower, Pini Cohen, was arrested by the court's security guards. Judges Elyakim Rubinstein and Uzi Vogelman was also present, and were taken to their offices after the incident.
According to initial reports, Cohen entered the courtroom, asked, 'Is this the president?" After receiving a positive response, he took off his shoe, threw it at Beinish and hit her in the face. He then took off his other shoe and hurled it at her, but she bent down and escaped it.
Cohen appears to have a past of violent behavior. He apparently threatened his lawyer Arieh Rozenberg and Judge Philip Marcus in 2006. Rozenberg also said that he had been assaulted by Cohen who caused him a hand fracture.
Magistrates' Court Judge Rachel Shalev-Gertel released him then on bail of NIS 2,000 (about $535) and issued a restraining order forbidding him from coming to the family court and the judge for three months.
"I have no intention of attacking anyone. If I receive an order from the judge not to come, I won't come," he was quoted as saying in the hearing's minutes. Attorney Rozenberg said to Ynet: "I was always afraid of this man. I felt a huge relief when he left me and left the office."
Pini Cohen after being arrested (Photo: Amit Shabi)
The incident occurred as the court was discussing a petition filed by the Tikkun Olam organization, which asked the court to extend an interim order preventing the Health Ministry from cancelling the organization's license to operate a medical cannabis greenhouse in the Golan Heights.
The organization's spokesman, Shai Meir, told Ynet about the incident: "A weird person arrived towards the end of the discussion, a man in his 60s, and asked the people sitting in the back if this was Supreme Court President Dorit Beinish. They said yes."
According to Meir, the man sat down, took off his shoe and threw it straight into Beinish's face. "The blow was so strong that she simply fell off her chair. It looked like she had lost her consciousness. Everyone was hysterical. The same weird guy managed to take off another shoe and throw it before the security guards gained control of him.
"The session was stopped immediately, the security guards took over him and removed us from the hall. I saw her falling off her chair behind the counter. He shouted at her, 'You're corrupt, you've ruined our lives. You'll be corrupt your entire life.'"
Peres: Holy institution hurt
Courts administration spokeswoman Attorney Ayelet Filo told Ynet that Beinish was feeling well, although she suffered from bruises near her nose and her eyeglasses had been broken. "We view the incident as extremely severe and it will be taken care of," she said.
President Shimon Peres telephoned Beinish from Berlin, where he is attending events marking International Holocaust Day, and inquired of her condition.
"Hurting you is akin to hurting a holy institution of the State of Israel. This cannot become part of the routine," he told her. "Be strong. My heart is with you. Take care of yourself."
Beinish replied, "I am touched by the fact that you called. Thank you for your concern. I will be fine."
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expressed his deep shock over the incident and condemned any type of violence. "I am shocked. The court must not be hurt and we must not even imagine hurting the Supreme Court president," he said.
Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin said during a parliament session, "I view this incident as extremely severe, even if it luckily did not end with a serious physical injury. We must not hesitate in light of the crossing of such a red line. A symbol of authority has been hurt."
Knesset Member David Rotem (Yisrael Beiteinu), chairman of the Knesset's Constitution, Law and Justice Committee, said that "the attempt to hurt the Supreme Court president is a strike to the legal system and the entire State of Israel.
"One can disagree with rulings, but the justice system is one of the symbols of the Israeli rule and hurting the system or its representatives is akin to hurting the entire State of Israel. We must take firm steps to prevent any physical harm to Israel's judges."
Shoe throwing has become a popular form of protest across the world since Iraqi journalist Muntader al-Zaidi threw his shoes on former US President George W. Bush on December 2008. The young journalist, who was expressing his anger over the American invasion of Iraq and for years of a bloody war, shouted at Bush, 'This is your farewell kiss, you dog!"
Roi Mandel, Amnon Meranda, Roni Sofer and Ronen Medzini contributed to this report